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Tracking someone down with very little information
March 5, 2014 7:25 AM   Subscribe

I had a friend that I met periodically- a few times a month- when I used to live in another country - we kept in touch exclusively by phone, I don't know his e-mail address. I lost my phone, and then had to abruptly leave the country, and I've been wondering if there's any way to get in touch with him with the limited information I have.

I know

a) his first name (he weirdly refused to tell me his last)
b) the country he was born and raised in (a relatively small one)
c) the country he immigrated to at the age of 18
d) a very, very vague idea of his work (he was kind weirdly elusive about that also)
e) his approximate age

I haven't seen him in 5 years.

Is it even possible to find someone with this limited amount of information?

Thanks, AskMe!
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper to Human Relations (10 answers total)
 
I hate to say it, but since he refused to tell you his last name, he apparently did not wish to be located.

But as for hunting for him: do you have a street address? Write, and hope that even if he's moved it'll follow him to his current address.
posted by easily confused at 7:36 AM on March 5


difficult - but not necessarily impossible.
I would start by joining every social media site in the country where he lives.
posted by Flood at 7:36 AM on March 5


Would your cell provider keep a record of all the phone numbers you called/received calls from? You might be able to narrow it down that way. I used to be able to to get that online from Verizon (though not sure if it went back 5 years...)

But I agree, if he was elusive not only about his last name but also his place of work, it seems he would not want to be contacted.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 7:38 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


If you know any of his hobbies, try googling his name (and nickname variations) along with the hobby to see if he's posted in a forum anywhere.
posted by phunniemee at 7:41 AM on March 5


Is it possible that you met at the same place on a regular basis, a place he might return to from time to time? You could send a letter to that establishment with another card inside addressed to your friend, and ask them to hold it for him in the event that he comes in. Complete longshot, I know, but very low effort for some potential reward.

And of course, make sure you are easily found on facebook and linkedin, maybe he will look you up one day.
posted by vignettist at 7:46 AM on March 5


If he was refusing to tell you his last name, or his work, there's a decent chance he didn't tell you his real first name. The information about his origins might have been a fib as well. It would make sense that he'd want to prevent you from googling him if he was lying to you.

As to why he would lie, some people just lie, constantly, for no reason at all.
posted by Dynex at 8:50 AM on March 5 [4 favorites]


That is precious little information to go by. I very much doubt you can find this person on your own. If you hire a private investigator, they might be able to find him, but it would probably take a lot of time and effort and be quite expensive. I presume you don't have a photo of him, but if you could have a professional police-type sketch artist do an accurate depiction of him, that might open up some other ways of finding him.
posted by Dansaman at 8:54 AM on March 5


We were both expats, and I don't even know if he's still there. I'm sure he was from the countries he said he was from, but I mean... unless the country is Vatican City or Nauru that's not much to go on as Dansaman said, is it? I'm relatively easy to find on the internet if you know my first and last name (or even middle), but I don't think he knew my last (or middle) name either.

(As for not wanting to be found- that's a good point, he told me he didn't want me to know his last name because he didn't want any of the people in his country who were in the country we were living in to be able to find him- not that I was planning on broadcasting his last name all dry and sundry...)

I agree, it's a long shot. Thank you for your suggestions and feedback.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 9:56 AM on March 5


The algorhythms on LinkedIn are just scary!

So, create a linkedin profile, link to other folks who were ex-pats with you and you may be surprised, he'll pop up in you "Do you know" window.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:46 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


(As for not wanting to be found- that's a good point, he told me he didn't want me to know his last name because he didn't want any of the people in his country who were in the country we were living in to be able to find him- not that I was planning on broadcasting his last name all dry and sundry...)

That's a reason not to tell them, not a reason not to tell you.

This guy doesn't want to be found.
posted by winna at 1:23 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


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